Posts Tagged ‘transparency’

Following the Money: A Tennessee Education Spending Primer

Following the Money: A Tennessee Education Spending Primer

Beacon Center report analyzes how many tax dollars go into the classroom

NASHVILLE – A new study released today analyzes taxpayer spending on public education in Tennessee. In the study, the Beacon Center of Tennessee, the state’s premier free market policy organization, looked at the amount taxpayers actually spend on education versus what is reported, where that money goes, and whether more funding equals better results.

The first of its kind in Tennessee, the report titled “Following the Money: A Tennessee Education Spending Primer,” reached some troubling conclusions. First, the amount that taxpayers already spend on public education is significantly underreported. While the average stated amount spent per pupil is $9,123 per year, the true figure is about 11 percent more than reported, or $10,088 per student.

Of that funding, less than 54 percent is directed at classroom instruction, such as teacher salaries, textbooks, and other instructional spending. And that figure is in constant decline, whereas administrative spending is on the upswing. Since 2000, the number of administrators in Tennessee’s education system has grown by 34.5 percent, while the number of teachers has increased by less than 17 percent, and the number of students has grown by just seven percent.

Administrators’ salaries have also outpaced those of teachers during that time period. In fact, when factoring for inflation, teachers make less money today than they did in 2000.

“Not only have taxpayers been misinformed about how much we spend on education, there has been a growing trend of adding administrative personnel, redirecting funding away from the classroom,” said Beacon Center CEO Justin Owen.

Finally, after comparing similarly situated school districts within the state, while also comparing Tennessee to other states, the report found no measurable correlation between spending and student performance.

“Ultimately, more spending does not equal better results,” said Owen. “Rather than allocate more money, especially on administrative personnel, public school districts should focus on spending education funds more wisely. Only then can Tennessee expect to provide its students with the quality education they deserve.”

The full report can be found at

The Beacon Center of Tennessee’s mission is to change lives through public policy by advancing the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government.



August 19th, 2013 | Feature, Policy

Cronyism: A Tennessee Love Story

Beacon CEO Justin Owen pens a guest article at the new blog, Tennessee Brush Fires, about the pitfalls of corporate welfare. Here’s an excerpt.

Since 2005, Tennessee governments have handed over $1.75 billion in the form of tax credits and cash grants to large companies. And the vast majority of it has gone to just seven large corporations. Talk about a lopsided playing field.

The worst part of this corporate welfare scheme—taking from some and giving to others—is what could be done instead. Take for example the case of Hemlock Semiconductor, which received massive subsidies to locate a plant in Clarksville as part of the solar panel supply chain. Just a few months ago, the company announced that it was laying off its Tennessee workforce and ending construction on the unopened plant. Despite the company’s utter failure to live up to its promises, taxpayers will lose $90 million on the deal.

The $90 million lost on Hemlock could have gone to cut the business tax for all Tennessee businesses by almost one-half percent. That’s a tax cut for 170,000 different businesses, from the largest corporation to the mom and pop shop down the road.

Head over to Tennessee Brush Fires for the full piece.

August 2nd, 2013 | Commentary

Corporate Welfare PoliGraphic

Corporate Welfare PoliGraphic

Today, the Beacon Center of Tennessee published a new “PoliGraphic,” a policy infographic outlining some of the most massive corporate welfare deals in Tennessee over the past decade. The PoliGraphic also analyzes what could be done with the money that is doled out to favored companies and Hollywood elites. Click here or on the picture below to view the entire PoliGraphic.

To learn more about the pitfalls of corporate welfare, visit

July 31st, 2013 | Feature, Policy